The recent controversy over the appointment of Julio Brady to the position of superior court judge highlights a political truth as old as Aristotle: In a democratic society, good government is entirely dependent on good people in public office.
One of the advantages of being a minority party is that it can stand beyond the pay-back level and make intelligent choices with little impunity. Holland Redfield, Republican National Committeeman for the Virgin Islands, has consistently recommended and supported the best qualified candidates to the decision-makers on the national level.
Recent appointments include Raymond Finch (D) as chief district judge; Curtis Gomez (R) as judge of the District Court; Anthony Jenkins (R) as U.S attorney; and Conrad Hoover (D) as U.S. marshal. Despite criticism from patronage supporters within his own party, Redfield has made these tough decisions with the certain knowledge that the people of the Virgin Islands will benefit from the wisdom and courage involved in making nonpartisan choices.
In his State of the Territory address, the incumbent governor, Dr. Charles Turnbull, recognized the assistance given by Redfield in the promulgation of the rules and regulations needed in order for the Economic Development Commission program here to continue successfully.
At present, Redfield is working with the local Democrat administration to codify legislation for a final resolution of this issue. The Republican National Committeeman is in a far more advantageous position to present the case of the Virgin Islands to a Republican Congress than one delegate representing the opposition party. As far as the political structure of the Virgin Islands is concerned, bipartisan support is not a choice but a necessity.
Ralph Paiewonsky (D), the last appointed governor of the Virgin Islands, knew from his longtime experience as Democratic National Committeeman that the only chance the Virgin Islands had of acquiring an elective governor and developing into the complex modern society it is today was to embrace a viable two-party system on the federal model. The watchdog function inherent in political parties of always looking out for the transgressions of the rival party is the best system yet devised for ensuring fair elections. Personal guests at Government House during Paiewonsky's tenure included national Republican Party leaders as well as Democrats. Both were influential in obtaining more autonomy for our local government.
Politicians suffer from being the butt of as many tasteless jokes as lawyers do. But too often forgotten is the fact that these professional groups, mindful of the laws they create and interpret, are also society's watchdogs. Without the scrutiny provided by party rivalry, our leaders would be even more vulnerable to the temptations of greed and the lure of absolute power. We are surrounded daily with reports of societies sinking to chaos and violence.
National Committee members of both parties serve at their own expense and in the public interest. They acquire an insider's knowledge of national politics invaluable in promoting local concerns, a requisite in judging the best candidates for any given office. The Brady confirmation hearings bring to mind a leader who influenced politicians but whose own thinking was profound and independent. It is to be hoped that those who vote, whether legislators or the general public, judge candidates for office not only by party ideology but the "content of their character."
Patricia Gill Murphy
president, V.I. Republican Women
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